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Thursday, August 7, 2014


Can you hear me now? Choosing the right hearing aid

Have you been diagnosed with hearing loss? Hearing aids can restore significant amounts of your auditory function if you take the time to choose the right brand with the right calibrations. If you’re in the market for hearing aids, here are eight tips for finding the perfect model.

Aquavi hearing aid1. Determine Your Level of Hearing Loss
If it’s been awhile since your last trip to the audiologist, make an appointment to figure out how much your hearing loss has progressed, stalled or tapered off over the years. You’ll need an accurate and up-to-date assessment of your hearing in order to find the equipment that’s right for you.

2. Give Yourself a Price Range
Hearing aids can set you back anywhere from $300 to $3,000, so if you’re on a budget, it’s important that you don’t buy anything beyond your means. Keep in mind that the hearing aids themselves will only be part of your expenses; you’ll also be responsible for cleanings, fittings and overall upkeep.

3. Think About the Canal
Most hearing aids fall under one of two umbrellas: in the canal or outside the canal. Ones in the canal are custom designed for the shape of your ear, offering more comfort, better acoustics and less visibility to others. Ones outside the canal, however, have longer shelf lives and advanced features like volume control.

4. Choose a Style
Once you’ve decided where the hearing aid will sit on your ear, it’s time to decide which shell you prefer. Half shells are smaller and less obtrusive than full shells, but their battery power corresponds to their size, so full shells are better for severe hearing loss. On the other hand, full shells tend to pick up more wind and background noises, which can be a nuisance for the sensitive.

5. Pick a Brand
Choosing a brand for your hearing aids is almost as important as choosing the style itself. If you have problems with your model down the line or you’re looking for tips and tricks for sound amplification, the manufacturer will determine how to fix, adjust or optimize your hearing aids.

6. Check Their Credentials
Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for any complaints against your chosen brand. The good ones shouldn’t have any negative feedback at all. For example, if you choose hearing aids from Miracle Ear, you’ll see that the Miracle Ear BBB listing contains no consumer complaints.

7. Ask About Guarantees
Most hearing aid companies offer some kind of warranty for their products, but the length of these promises can vary depending on the brand. Others might be willing to give you a trial period for 1-3 months so you can familiarize yourself with the technology before making a final decision.

8. Splurge on the Extras
Hearing aids have progressed beyond little nubs that only transfer sound. The more advanced models come with everything from directional microphones to Bluetooth capabilities. If your bank account will allow it, think about investing in a pair of hearing aids that will give you all the comforts and conveniences of modern living.

These are just eight suggestions for finding the perfect hearing aids. With the right equipment, you can walk in the sunshine and enjoy the sound of birds chirping right in your ear.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

kickstarter green find: yoloha cork yoga mats

cork yoga mat yoloha

We love yoga and we love renewable cork  — Yoloha is currently raising funds via a Kickstarter campaign for the manufacture of their innovative cork yoga mat. The top surface of Yoloha mats utilize a natural cork surface. Each mat is hand-built and features an unmatched grip that increases the more you sweat.

handmade yoloha yoga mat

The mat is also self cleaning – cork is naturally hypoallergenic and antimicrobial, naturally eliminating bad smells, bacteria, and mold. No need to wipe these mats clean.

cork yoga mat girl

Yoholo has been working with cork for many years on surfboards and other products and have a deep understanding of cork.

Eco-friendly features:

  • The mat is 100% recyclable with eco-friendly materials that contain no PVC’s or harmful chemicals.
  • Cork and rubber are some of the most durable and resilient materials on the planet.
  • Cork is a 100% natural, renewable and recyclable material.
  • The cork used in the mat’s construction is obtained through an environmentally friendly harvesting process. Trees are not cut down to harvest the cork, rather, the bark is peeled off by hand every 9 years. Cork oak trees can live up to 300 years.
  • Backing of the yoga mat is comprised of 90% domestically produced recycled rubber tires.
  • The entire mat is recyclable and all of the leftover scrap from producing Yoloha mats are reground to be used in new products.

yoloha cork yoga mat

The Yoloha Kickstarter campaign will be on-going for another 10 days. They are offering pledgers a variety of neat Yoloha associated stuff. Pledge $140 and you can get one of the first Yoloha cork yoga mats available – sometime in August. Due to cork’s inherent durability Yoholo guarantees the mat for a lifetime. Made entirely in the USA.

related: more eco-friendly health and beauty product reviews from The Alternative Consumer

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Dandelions: From Domestic Difficulty to Divine Delicacy

dandelion fieldDandelions are the scourge of the modern landscape. In their quest to take over your lush green lawn, those cunning weeds have evolved sunny flowers and delicate puffballs that are irresistible to human children. Before you know it, your landscape is pockmarked with yellow blooms, gangly dandelion clocks and spiky weeds. You’re on your hands and knees in your yard trying to uproot them with dandelion forks, but for each dandelion plant you uproot, three more emerge.

What you may not know about those troublesome dandelions is that their flowers, leaves and roots are great sources of nutrition. For example, both ancient and modern health practitioners have speculated about possible health benefits of dandelion root tea. They’ve used the tea for supporting gastrointestinal health and to eliminate water weight.  In addition to brewing dandelion root tea, people also enjoy dandelion greens and petals in a variety of dishes. Take a look at a few ways to transform this garden pest into a gastronomical delight.

Dandelion Root Tea
dandelion root teaBefore making your own dandelion root tea, consider trying commercially prepared tea from a trusted resource. The tea may have a slight laxative effect, so you should drink it at night to avoid potential problems during the workday. If you like commercially prepared tea and you want to make your own, try this easy method from Laurie Neverman of “Common Sense Homesteading“:

  1. Assemble your ingredients. You’ll need an ounce of fresh dandelion root, or one-half ounce of dried dandelion root, per pint of hot water. Neverman suggests adding an equal part of burdock root to help the body detoxify.
  2. Pour the water into a non-reactive teakettle or saucepan. Avoid aluminum kettles, which may react with the root and affect the flavor.
  3. Add the dandelion root. Make sure not to chop or cut the root until just before you add it to the water. Waiting keeps vital nutrients from being lost before you make your tea.
  4. Bring the water and root to a simmer. Simmer the tea until it’s lost about one-fourth of its original volume.
  5. Strain the tea. Place a mesh strainer or a couple of layers of cheesecloth over the open top of serving teapot. Pour the tea from the kettle into the pot, and discard the spent dandelion roots.
  6. Serve the tea. You can store dandelion root tea for a short time in the refrigerator, but you should discard unused tea after three days.

Delicious Dandelion Eats
dandelion greensDandelion leaves and petals can be transformed into dinnertime delights. For example, Langdon Cook, author of the “Fat of the Land” blog and several books, suggests making dandelion tempura from flower heads:

  1. Heat the oil. Start by heating some vegetable oil until it’s bubbling.
  2. Mix the batter. While the oil heats, mix three-fourths cups of flour and one-fourth cup of corn starch in a small bowl. In a second bowl, combine a lightly beaten egg with one-half cup of ice-cold water. Then, combine the dry and wet ingredients, adding a bit of extra cold water if needed to give the batter a runny texture.
  3. Batter and fry the dandelion flowers. Roll rinsed dandelion flower heads in the runny batter, shake off the excess and drop the flowers into the hot oil. Remove them from the oil when they’re golden brown, and serve them with other lightly battered and fried vegetables such as zucchini and bell pepper.

You can also pick dandelion leaves, rinse them well and wilt them in a sauté pan. Heat the pan and briefly fry some bacon or pancetta until the fat renders out. Scoop out the meat and set it aside. Sauté the greens in the residual fat until they wilt. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper, add the meat back in and serve them in a bowl for a light summertime meal. Alternatively, add the wilted greens to soups or stir-fry dishes.

A Few Tips
Feel free to pick dandelions from your yard or gather them elsewhere, but avoid places where landscapers have sprayed weed killer. For example, never forage for dandelions near train tracks, interstate highways or telephone poles. Also, check the rules before foraging for dandelions in public parks. By following a few simple tips, you can transform dandelions from annoying weeds to fabulous food.

Dandelion field image by Vince Alongi on Flickr.

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Avoid the Gimmicks: Reliable Ways to Get Rid of Medical Waste

We humans are always fascinated by the shock of the new. The latest gadget, the newest app or the most up-to-date car – we drool over these items more than a dog staring at a warm pork chop. But when it comes to medical waste, avoid all gimmicks – you want the tried, tested and true methods that have been honed for years. Indeed, as superbugs lurk down every corridor, pouncing on patients with a health-mugging, medical safety has never been more important. The letters MRSA have probably dominated the majority of news coverage in recent years, and neutralising it isn’t just the duty of antibiotics.

With effective pharmaceutical waste disposal, your medical practice – be it a miniscule GPs or a gargantuan hospital – will be able to combat germs and infections of all shapes and levels of severity. More than this, ineffective disposal will lead to poor publicity, as a Glasgow general practitioners recently found out. In local newspaper the Evening Times, it was reported that discarded rubbish and waste was being disposed of behind the surgery, leading to outrage from local residents. And bad PR equals bad business.

So what services should the alternative consumer find to make their medical practice as clean as can be?

Clinical Spillage Kit
Provided by specialist companies, a clinical spillage kit should contain everything you need to wipe up and disinfect areas where clinical waste has been spilled. Bear in mind that clinical waste is nothing like common-garden muck. Especially in a medical environment, this waste could contain hazardous diseases, including HIV, AIDS, hepatitis B or C and even smaller diseases such as E Coli or Mers.

With a clinical spillage kit you’ll have equipment to prepare you for every eventuality. It’ll put dangerous spills out of action for good.

Controlled Drug Denaturing Kit
Before out of date drugs can be disposed of, they must first be “denatured”, meaning they have to be altered to lose their strength. This isn’t just something you have to do if you feel like it – it’s in accordance with the Misuse of Drugs Regulation 2001.

The highest quality denaturing kits are the easiest to use, making the retrieval of old drugs a near impossibility. Drug addicts have been known to swarm around surgery waste in the hope of a quick fix. But you can stop all that with a simple purchase of these kits.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

non-toxic, organic sunscreen – block island organics

girl on beach

Full disclosure: this a “Tried and True Green Product Review”. Block Island Organics provided us with a variety of products for testing.

Founded by a brother-sister team and based out of Block Island, RI, Block Island Organics is on a mission to make suncare products safer and more effective for the whole family. The company makes mineral-based suncare products for both kids and adults and got its start out of a family-run eco spa on Block Island called Koru Eco Spa (

block island organics sunscreensBlock Island Organics products are formulated to be both safe and effective.  The sunscreens are non-toxic mineral-based (zinc and titanium), as opposed to chemical-based, and include a Baby SPF 30 (this product is zinc only), an SPF 15, SPF 30 (also zinc only) and SPF 40 product.  The products pack a lot of eco-friendly street cred. The entire product line is non-comedogenic, vegan formulated, paraben free, phthalate free, nano particle free, artificial fragrance free, non-eye irritating, not tested on animals, made in the USA and highly rated by one of our favorite orgs, the Environmental Working Group.

We tested the products in our sandy testing center located in super-sunny Palm Beach, Florida (we went to the beach). I tested the SPF 15 and Maureen tested the SPF 30. We found both sunscreens to work very effectively for the two hour testing period. Conditions included: full sun exposure, 87 degree temps and 5 mph breeze. We did a minor reapply after a quick swim and towel dry. Our only slightly negative note – the SPF 30 sunscreen leaves the slightest white film (probably the zinc) after application, though it really stays with you for full protection, which is the important thing. The products apply easily and come in handsome dispensers.

After 2 hours of sun exposure and a shower we applied Block Island’s sunburn relief product and found it to be ultra soothing and skin nourishing – a great apres-sun application. The Sunburn Relief product contains lidocaine, cucumber, aloe and is fragrance free. (more…)

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